At many points in your life, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and distraught. While this is a natural part of being human (and keep in mind that it’s actually not healthy to not feel down every now and then!), being continually down-in-the-dumps could signal a more pressing underlying condition.
If your sadness hangs around for a few weeks or more or if you are beginning to experience other symptoms, like a loss of appetite or sleeplessness, you may have clinical depression. It’s not rare – over 30 million people struggle with mild depression every year, with even more diagnosed with more serious depression each year, too.
Depression can run in the family, meaning you are more likely to suffer from depression if someone in your family did. Physiologically, depression is also linked to a malfunction in chemical neurotransmitters in the brain. If there is a glitch in the way that your neurotransmitters communicate, you can experience problems with your mood, sleeping, and even eating.
While there are multiple pharmaceutical remedies that can help to level out the chemicals in your brain that are the cause of your perpetual unhappiness, these can harbor dangerous side effects.
Plus, if you have poor or no health insurance, they can be extremely expensive. There are multiple home remedies you can use to combat your depression that, though they take a bit of time to work, can help reduce your reliance on prescription medications.
This article is for information purposes only. Neither the author nor www.thehomesteadinghippy.com shall be held liable for any side-effects, misuse or any other type of side-effects as a direct or indirect result of applying the advice given in this article. if you’re feeling depressed, please see your doctor.
1. Adjust your diet
Eating a healthy, well-balanced, and nutritious diet can boost your mood and overall wellbeing in general, but there are certain compounds in food that can help adjust the chemicals in your brain.
The major chemical related to depression is serotonin, which is commonly treated with medications like Prozac that work to inhibit serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Some foods are natural serotonin boosters, helping to raise your levels without causing unwelcomed side If you are monitoring your depression, consider increasing your intake of foods like sour cherries, eggs, flaxseeds, and fish oils.
Another food to increase your consumption of is Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are one of few foods that are high in selenium. Selenium helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and also helps to boost your energy levels. By eating foods rich in selenium, like Brazil nuts, tuna, oysters, and sunflower seeds, you can experience a more positive mood throughout the day.
2. Avoid caffeine
There are many benefits to consuming caffeine, but if you have depression, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages (source 1, source 2). Caffeine will give you a quick mood boost, but as soon as it wears off, you will experience a horrible crash. Coffee drinkers tend to be at higher risk of having low-levels of serotonin, reducing the amount of chemicals that help to regulate your mood.
If you absolutely must have your daily caffeine fix, consider drinking green tea instead of coffee or soda. Green tea has caffeine, but it also contains L-theanine, a compound that has psychoactive properties that can reduce stress and increase dopamine.
Cut your caffeine intake carefully, paying attention to how you feel when you cut out coffee. If you forgo it all at once, you can suffer from headaches and, of course, a sudden drop in mood. Whittle down your caffeine intake slowly, and over a period of time, to help reduce the sudden impacts of cutting it out altogether.
3. Talk it out
Whether you’re going to see a therapist or simply talking to a trusted friend, discussing your symptoms of depression is a great way to work through what might be causing them. A therapist can help pull you through tough times, and also let you get some weight off your chest. Don’t feel ashamed of needing to talk – it is helpful and will allow you to get some relief from your heavy emotions.
4. Get some exercise
Exercise is absolutely vital to promoting a positive mood and fighting depression. Even a fifteen-minute walk is enough to boost endorphins in your brain. Ever heard of runner’s high? This temporary boost in endorphins is part of why endurance athletes keep on going even after they’ve already engaged in hours of exercise. You don’t need to run a marathon to reap the benefits of the endorphin boost – all you need is to get moving.
5. Start meditating
Meditating is a great way to engage in some crucial self-reflection. It allows you to become more in tune with yourself and to reflect and sort through your thoughts. Start small, with perhaps just a few minutes a day of meditation, and don’t beat yourself up if you fall asleep. Meditation is a great way to relax, and can help you work through any challenging thoughts or situations that you might be dealing with throughout the course of your day.
6. Rely on herbs to boost your mood
There are dozens of herbs with mood-boosting properties. One of these is chamomile. Chamomile has relaxing properties because it is high in specific flavonoids that promote calm. You can have a cup of chamomile tea with milk and honey before bed to unwind, or sleep with a little sachet of chamomile under your pillow.
Another popular remedy is St. John’s wort. Though technically a shrub and not an herb, St. John’s wort has treated a number of mental disorders since the times of ancient Greece. It is effective in treating mild to moderate depression because it contains hypericin. Hypericin affects several neurotransmitters just as popular medications like Prozac do. It has fewer side effects than prescription medications, although you will still take it in a capsule.
7. Start taking vitamins
If you aren’t already taking a multivitamin, start, and if you are, consider the dosage and specific vitamins included in the dose. Certain vitamins, such as B-12, play a major role in your mood and happiness. If you are low in B-12, you will feel more sluggish and even have a harder time with your digestion and other bodily functions.
B-12 is high in certain foods, like cheese, shellfish, spinach, and fish, but if you are a vegetarian or otherwise restricted in your diet, it can be tough to consume enough B-12 from food alone. A multivitamin high in B-12 or a B-12-only vitamin may help boost your mood.
Magnesium, too, helps support a wide range of biomechanical functions. It helps keep the chemicals in your brain stable, and unfortunately, magnesium is often removed from our modern diets.
You can’t produce it naturally on your own, so you may need to deliberately add magnesium-rich foods (like almonds, black beans, or bananas) to your diet or take a magnesium supplement. Another great source of magnesium is pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain healthy fats as well as magnesium. They also contain L-tryptophan, which can help you produce more serotonin.
Low levels of folic acid are also associated with depression. Folic acid deficiency causes serotonin levels to fall, and is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in women. You only need about 200 mcg per day, which can be me through adding a cup of spinach to your diet every day or taking a dietary supplement.
8. Consider acupuncture
There are scientific studies going back and forth disputing whether acupuncture is beneficial. While some of the research is anecdotal, there is evidence (source 1, source 2) that acupuncture might help treat pain as well as depression and anxiety.
When the needles enter your skin at one of over 400 different pressure points that acupuncturists use, your body releases endorphins. This can help you feel calm, relaxed, and happier after the session has ended.
9. Try light therapy
If your depression is impacted by the changing seasons (namely, if your mood is affected by the lack of light on cold winter days), you might want to give light therapy a try. Light therapy elevates your mood by activating your brain’s circadian rhythms. Depression is linked to problems with sleep, so adjusting your circadian rhythm can help boost your mood.
10. Get some sleep
Depression can make it hard to get some rest, particularly when it seems like your brain just won’t turn off. Too little sleep can make your depression worse. Consider making some changes to your lifestyle to help make sleep easier.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, and try not to nap. Remove any distractions from your bedroom, such as the television or your cell phone. A little bit of sleep will go a long way in improving the symptoms of your depression.
11. Curb your alcohol intake
Many people drink alcohol as a way of coping with their depression. It has a sedative effect and can distract from the unending sadness. While it may temporarily relieve the symptoms of depression, it brings a whole host of other problems into your life, particularly, if an alcohol use disorder arises and begins to impact your family, career, and personal life.
Consider taking a break from drinking if you find that you are having a hard time coping with your depression.
12. Drop the junk food
A sugar high from a cupcake or candy bar might feel good at first, but you’ll come crashing down quickly. Try to eliminate most – if not all – junk food from your diet. This will leave room for more nutritious, energizing food, and will also help to boost your mood.
13. Take time to do the things you love
Set aside time to explore your hobbies, spend time with family and friends, and learn more about yourself in the process. Doing the things that you most enjoy doing will help you see the value in life, and also help to build your self-confidence.
Even if you find that your schedule is jam-packed with work, personal, or familial obligations, blocking out even small chunks of time to dedicate to yourself will pay off in the long run. You will be more focused at work and less plagued by your depressive thoughts and situation than you were before.
14. Laughter – the best medicine!
There is truly no better remedy to a bad mood than with a little bit of laughter, and these benefits can be extended to a more serious case of depression, too. Laughing triggers the same endorphins that are triggered by exercise, allowing you to reap all the feel-good benefits of exercise without leaving home. Consider watching a funny movie, chatting with your funniest friend, or simply looking at your life’s stressors in a more humorous light.
15. Change your mindset
Easier said than done, right? But people with a more optimistic attitude toward life are less likely to become depressed. Even if you are naturally a pessimist, shifting your viewpoint even through small, baby steps over time can help impact your mental health.
This may be a daunting task, but the next time you are feeling badly about yourself, consider using logic as a way to treat your depression. If you feel worthless, why? What specifically is causing you to feel that way, and is it logical? While this routine will take time to initiate, it’s a good way of breaking the cycle of negative thinking that often leads to depression.
16. Adjust your daily routine
Rethink how you go about your daily tasks. Being in a routine can help add structure to your life, and eliminates a common side-effect of depression which is that one day seems to melt into the next. Setting for yourself a daily schedule can get you back on track, as can setting goals for what you would like to accomplish. Be flexible with yourself, however, and remember that baby steps are key.
17. Stay involved
It’s important that you don’t withdraw from your life and give up your duties when you are feeling depressed. Stay involved and maintain your daily responsibilities, as this will help you to maintain a lifestyle that can combat your depression. It will also keep you grounded and give you a sense of accomplishment.
18. Break free of your rut
Often, we find ourselves depressed because we are in a rut. By pushing yourself to do something new and exciting, you can often break free of the grip of your depression. Challenge yourself to read a new book, to try a class, or to volunteer for a cause you care about. When you challenge yourself, your brain releases dopamine, which is associated with both pleasure and learning and can help reduce your feelings of depression.
19. Have some fun
When you’re depressed, it may seem difficult to have fun doing anything. You might find it difficult to drag yourself out of the house to go to dinner with friends, or to even go see a movie. But it’s important that you make time for the things you once enjoyed. In time, things that were once fun will begin to seem fun again, and you will be able to break free of your depression.
20. Be patient
Only time can truly heal your depression, and in truth, depression is not a fully resolvable condition but one that may resurface time and time again throughout your life. Don’t let a short bout of depression send you into a spiral of despair. Remember that, with a little time and patience with yourself, you can overcome your feelings of depression and return to living your life to the fullest extent possible.
Rebekah is a part-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies.